“どうやってこの感じ伝えようかな”

12/7/11 – 23:39

~ ~

I wanted to wait a few days before writing this entry because if I had written it right after the 打ち上げ, people might have gotten sick from all the sappy display of emotion I would have spewed out onto the interwebs. Seeing as it’s now been a good three or four days, I think I can write about the wrap-up of Kansai Gaidai Wind Band’s 2011 year without being overly sentimental. [No promises.]

We’ll start with the featured pic. If you look closely, hurr hurr, one of those things is not like the other. Yup. That’s my name. Amidst the sea of Japanese characters, you have “Ryan Chancoco U.S.A.” I thought that was pretty spiffy that they included me in the program like that.

But anyways, this past Saturday was the 定期演奏会, the annual concert and final performance of the calendar year. I have been devoting three to four days every week to attending rehearsal and it had finally come. The other members must have been more excited. They’ve been going at it for at least five days a week [sometimes more] for months at that point. My excitement was a little dampened by being held in a death-grip by pre-final papers and presentations as well as a very untimely cold/fever sort of thing that made me feel miserable. Although I wasn’t in top condition, I powered through with that ubiquitous “頑張る spirit” that I keep hearing about and everyone did splendidly. The marching portion reminded me very much of high school marching band and was extremely entertaining. Kudos to everyone, especially because it was entirely student run, save the one conductor we had for the symphonic portion. Thanks goes to Julia, too, for coming and supporting the arts/the band/me. You’re the best.

After the concert, Shoutaro, in his infinite generosity and will to go out drinking, invited me to an all night 飲み会 at a Doma-doma [the same izakaya chain where the Level 6 Class party was held] near Kyobashi. All this after waking up at 7:30 to get to the venue on time and then subsequently enduring half a day of rehearsals followed by a performance ending around 10 PM. I mean I was obviously not going to… turn his offer down. We were joined by a good portion of the band guys that were there at the first band party I went to and things went awesomely. I first went to dinner at 餃子王将 which basically means Gyoza General = Dumpling General = Dumpling King = Burger King, but with dumplings. And it was super cheap and delicious as you would expect from a Burger King that only sells Gyoza and Ramen. Takashi introduced me to the Japanese term 遠慮の塊 [enryo no katamari]. Literally, it means “clod of restraint.” I’ll give you a couple of seconds to guess what that involves.

Stumped? It’s a phrase that refers to the last piece of a shared meal [In this case, the last gyoza] that no one wants to take because that’s selfish and rude. So it just sits there. And sits there. Until someone does not 遠慮 themselves and goes for it. I was that person -_-. And to top it all off, Takashi paid for my meal. Man, I owe him so much.

Doma-doma was the same as always, except this time I was locked in heated battle with Bo-chan. He championed himself as being a strong drinker and was thus chosen to represent Japan as ジャパニーズアルコールリーダー [Japaniizu Arukooru Riidaa… go figure what that one means] and being the only American around, I was tagged as アメリカンリーダー–the representative of the entirety of the United States with regards to being able to drink. No pressure, hah. So we went one for one. Whatever he ordered, I would have the same. Things were going fine because he hates beer and went for sour apple flavored girly drinks and I was fine with that. [“りんごサワーは休憩やで” says I] It wasn’t until he started with the whiskey that I got a little crazy. And by crazy I mean… this is what Shotaro said more or less:

“You gained points for pounding those drinks down real fast.”

“And then you lost all of them and then some because you passed out.”

I woke up, babysicked in the bathroom garbage bin and a very nauseous looking Bo-chan shook my hand and we called a draw. [The above picture was not of that hand-shake, but it kind of looked like that. A very photogenic gesture between two “leaders.”]

At around 5:00, we all teetered on over to Kyobashi station and waited for the first trains. What I didn’t know was that all the first trains are 各駅停車普通 trains which means that they stop at every station and take forever to get wherever you’re going. Kyobashi to Korien alone is 15 stations. Me and Seki-chan had to go that far. But Misaki-kun was probably the most かわいそう ever. :[ He was on the same 5:30 local train as us, but he lives all the way at the end of the Keihan Line in Kyoto. That is a total of THIRTY-NINE stops. Needless to say, I feel like he slept the whole way. Poor Misaki-kun. ::pats on head:: When I asked him the next day, he said that he got home at 7. :/

~ ~

I got home at around 6 and tried to sleep my [already] hangover off, but that was interrupted by a ton of homework and the tail end of a paper I had to write. I groggily waded through all of my work and tried not to be too obvious as host-dad watched me make toast that I definitely had no appetite to eat, lol. But I mean, I had all day, right?

Nope! The day after the concert, there were two things. The first was a 反省会 in which each grade gets together, reflects on the club activities of the past year and then makes plans for what to do the following year. Then there is the 打ち上げ [uchiage] which is a celebration of a year well executed and a send-off party for the seniors.

I was a little late to the 反省会 but luckily I made it in time for the thing that came after it. So. Seeing as it is almost Christmas time, everyone in band brought presents… upon presents… upon presents. And they were all piled up and separated according to section on the tables in the meeting room. The presents, however, were all edible. Candies. Cakes. Cookies. Everything. And each box contained about 10,000 individually wrapped confections ready to be distributed to anyone and everyone. So basically, grab a bag, try to stave off the other members who want what you do, and take your pick. I remember someone yelling out “バーゲンセール!!!” (bargain sale) which is definitely what it felt like.

I got my bag and everyone just kept giving me stuff. I kept saying to everyone that:

1) “This is like second halloween.”

and

2) “This is the best day of my life.”

Here’s a photo of my spoils. I will be munching on these from now til’ new year. I swear I love these people.

You know what else I love? The fact that the bag says: “Welcome to the Christmas.” Gotta love engrish. (爆笑)

~ ~

The 打ち上げ itself was held at a ちゃんこ鍋 [chanko-nabe] place near the station and it was intensely classy, if I do say so myself. You walk in, take off your shoes, and are introduced into this banquet hall which housed four tables, one for each class. You sit on the floor and enjoy your hot-pot-like meal replete with all sorts of strange and delicious Japanese vegetables and seafood meats that nobody could quite explain to me in English or Japanese. The conductor also came and there was much merry-making and sentimentality. After a while, Hiromi called free time and out came the cameras. Shoutaro called another match between the American Leader and the Japanese Leader, and I obliged lightly, taking swigs of my Asahi as I took pictures with just about everyone.

Some people got SUPER classy and started drinking the plum wine straight out of the bottle, but for the sake of their job-seeking futures, I won’t post pictures. Haha. The conductor even wanted to talk to me for a bit. I thanked him profusely for his work and he, in turn, said that he went to Florida to see a shuttle launch once. I will not refute the logic of this exchange.

After my hand got tired of doing the peace sign for everyone’s cameras, including my own, it was time to wrap up and it was really sad. Now, I was already a bit emotional, but this next thing really took the cake. We did our last 終了, or signing out, and then Takashi called the clarinet section for a meeting. Everybody gathered in a circle and then… they presented me with a photo album. It had a picture of our entire section, me included, and a note from each one of them. I lost all my words and proceded to get really 泣きそう. T.T Japanese people can be the sweetest ever. They really can. For real, though, I didn’t end up 泣く-ing but I almost did. When I leave in May/Early June, then it’ll be okay to 泣く。

Here’s almost the entire clarinet [and bass cl.] section. Chika’s hiding on the right and Yukige and Mikino are back there by the stairs, but they’re all there and I roff them all.

~ ~

Leave it to Shoutaro and Takashi to want to pull an all-nighter again [this time with school the next day!]. Shoutaro assured me that Takashi was rich and had my tab at this other izakaya we went to and so I went. It was fun as usual, but Bo-chan was exhausted and (thankfully) didn’t want to challenge the “American Leader” that night, lol. Nakaya and Shiho, a couple of other seniors joined us at the place and when they left, I saw them off at the door. I grabbed Nakaya by the shoulders and told her “I’m never going to see you again. Have a good life.” See, the last time I said that to someone, it was sarcastic and contemptuous and ended horribly. But this time I really really wanted Nakaya and Shiho to have a good one. They deserve it for all the work they’ve put in. We moved from the izakaya to Takashi’s apartment where Ayaka spilled hot ramen soup on my hand, the third consecutive afterparty went down, and Takashi let me crash on his bed for a bit before the first train.

When I saw my host-mom next, I informed her about what all I’d been doing and she said that despite the cost, it’s so good not only that I went to the uchiage, but also that I joined the club in the first place. I agreed with her whole-heartedly. In her words, my experience was 「お金で買えない」 which means “invaluable; priceless; unable to be purchased.” And I feel like I really have formed these お金で買えない思い出. It’s stuff I can keep with me forever.

And in closing, I think we’ll end again with the featured picture. In the beginning, I said “one of these things is not like the other” but the statement that typically follows, at least in this case, is entirely untrue. Despite the language barrier, despite the fact that I am, in fact, a 外人, and despite me not participating in the marching portion, I really feel like I belong to this club. And I have all the members to thank for that. I feel like Ayame and Fumiya are the only ones that are actually going to see this, but I’d like to extend my thanks again to everyone that was in 吹奏楽部 this past semester. You made everything about being in the club worth it.

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